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Dr. Richard Coffin

Outstanding Islanders

Photo of Dr. Richard Coffin

From the Research Lab to the Open Seas

When he’s not developing research opportunities at the Island University, Dr. Richard Coffin, Chair of the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, can often be found leading expeditions around the world pertaining to new energy and climate change. His main area of research includes studying the amount of methane hydrate deposits that occur in the deep-sea sediments.

Recently, Coffin traveled to Hyderabad, India, for the 2014 Fiery Ice, 9th International Methane Hydrate R&D Workshop. He has also organized gas hydrate workshops in countries around the world including India, Norway, Canada, Scotland, Chile, New Zealand, and Japan.

“I love going to sea,” said Coffin. “Every day, there are new developments that we need to understand in ocean research. There is a capability to contribute to it significantly.”   

Before coming to the Island University, Coffin spent the last 18 years working for the Navy in the Naval Research Lab conducting research all over the world. He says the University has allowed him to bring his 30 years of effort and science to an academic focus.

“The most fulfilling part of working in this career is the new understanding of the ocean and how it works and to be able to couple this with undergraduates and graduate students and start to give them a future career in a topic that we cannot answer all the questions for today,” he said. Coffin also says that his research has helped develop and further his students’ education on critical climate change and energy topics.

His advice for students who wish to pursue a career related to ocean research is to take as many science classes as possible.

“I was brought up studying microbiology and chemistry, and today I use physics, math, biology, and chemistry,” he said.  “All those topics are very important in understanding the complex concepts related to ocean studies.”